The Spaniards were known to be the best conquerers in history. They set sail across the wide oceans, set foot on new lands, and developed it as their own. The Philippines is one of the most well-known of their colonies, with Spanish influences prevalent throughout Filipino culture to this day, from last names to the language, even to some of the food!
There is somewhere in the Philippines, however, where the likeness of colonial days is celebrated almost exclusively. Vigan has been preserved as a showcase and a tribute to this country’s fabled past. Travelers are flocking in from all over the world to relive that time, so let’s dive in!
UNESCO has a World Heritage List that most of you will be quite familiar with. Many places hold this honour, including massively famous ones, such as the Taj Mahal, and Puerto-Princesa’s underground river closer to home.
Many do not know, however, that Vigan is also a World Heritage Site! The Philippines has long been a breeding ground for happiness and history, but there is just something special about Vigan. When you stroll down its cobblestone streets, you will experience a time of the distant past and feel as if you’ve been there.
By far, the best preserved Spanish colonial town in Asia.
This is, by far, the best preserved Spanish colonial town in Asia. Established in the 16th century, the architecture is, as mentioned by UNESCO, “a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning”. Crisologo Street is where you want to be if you want examples of this, with many of the old buildings kept intact and slowly restored over the years.
Once you step a little away from the main street, you will be thrown right back into a traditional Filipino town. Culture and history usually go hand in hand and it is no exception here. The town centre is loud, the people friendly, and the vibes welcoming, allowing for it to be a complete, wonderful experience.
But that’s not the end of the Spanish influence! Food plays a huge part in the Filipino experience, and they have drawn some delicious links between their traditional tastes and international experience.
Chorizo is very popular in Spain, with the meaty, spicy sausage featuring in many of their famed dishes. Vigan has put its own twist on the traditional Chorizo, incorporating local spices to create a still-meaty and slightly spicy, yet tender, sweet, and salty, sausage, traditionally called the longganisa. This sausage is well-known throughout the Philippines as being at its absolute best here, so do not miss out!
Foodie Tip: There are also some delicious empanadas along the street food stalls. Do try some!
This piece has barely scratched the surface of Vigan, as there are really so much to see in this quaint little town. Whether your interests lie in visiting the old churches and the bell tower, sampling delicious Spanish/Filipino foods, or just taking a stroll through history, Vigan needs to be your next destination.
After all, while Spain should still remain on your list to visit, Vigan should not be far behind, with its romantic tribute to the old colony, and the beautiful harmony of culture and history.